Friday, November 23, 2012

We Don't Need A Map

Co-curator Erin Coates gives us a small insight into the highly anticipated exhibition We don’t need a map: a Martu experience of the Western Desert that opened at Fremantle Arts Centre with a bang on November 16 and continues until January 20, 2013:

What a journey it’s been - more than two years in the making. With over 1,100 people at the opening, we were completely overwhelmed with the amazing response.

Bringing the desert to the city, We don’t need a map features the distinct and lively work of more than 30 Martu artists from WA’s Western Desert as well as collaborations with other nationally acclaimed artists.

This enormous, gorgeous painting is by sisters Amy French and Lily Long. Karlamilyi is a complex and layered work, brimming with knowledge about native animals and plants, journeys through country, ancestral beings, waterholes and landforms. French and Long's distinct visual language challenges notions of desert painting, blending figurative and abstract imagery to present an energised landscape that is filled with elements of the seen and unseen world. 
Writers and senior Martu translators worked with the artists to generate interpretative information about the stories and knowledge embedded in this significant painting. Karlamilyi is presented with an interpretive wall diagram and accompanied by recordings of French and Long singing. (A BIG note: watch a brilliant short film of the artists in process here)
One of the hits of the exhibition is a giant inflatable bouncy basket which is based on a hand-woven basket by Martu artist Thelma Judson. Kids and adults alike have taken to this giant playful structure.
Also popular is Yunkurra Billy Atkins’ collaboration with animator Sohan Ariel Hayes (A BIG note: Sohan's work also features in Issue 3 - Game On!)Cannibal Story brings the senior Martu artist’s striking paintings to life. It’s an evocative animation which depicts armies of honey ants, goannas, Martu weaponry and cannibals descending upon Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment).

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